November 2022

Why Global Teams Are Smarter Teams

By Matthew Wilson

Successful companies have one thing in common: they have whip-smart teams. And global teams are taking collective intelligence to a whole new level.

Businesses with the most ambitious goals require the smartest people, and as the corporate world gets increasingly competitive, businesses need the best teams to succeed. So, how do you bring together the brightest minds to achieve those goals? The answer used to lie in the business districts of large cities, but all that is about to change. Soon, the smartest teams will be global.

Intelligence Relies on Interconnectivity

To explore why global teams are smarter, we need to look to neuroscience. In our latest report on the Globalization of Teams author and journalist Laurence H. Knight states that, ‘the main determinants of a species’ intelligence are how many neurons it has in its cerebral cortex and how well wired they are.’ In other words, ‘the bigger and more interconnected the neural network, the smarter the animal.’

This translates to how well corporate teams function too. The more that individuals within teams network their brains through language, innovation and collaboration, the better their collective intelligence and the smarter they become. This in turn leads to world-class teams building world-class business solutions.


Smart Teams Used to Work in Big City ‘Brain Hubs’

Traditionally, this kind networking took place in big cities like London, New York, and Shanghai, or ‘Brain hubs’. These cities had three main advantages:

  1. A large population able to share ideas and insights.
  2. A denser labor market to attract an abundance of skills.
  3. Enough diversity to enable specialization within different but complementary professions and industries.


Brain hubs used to be where the most successful businesses built the most successful teams. Talent acquisition was centered around capital cities and other large metropolitan areas, so that’s where top talent congregated. It was seemingly a virtuous circle that benefited both businesses and the people who worked for them.

But the bubble has been at the point of bursting for a while. Brain hubs have been getting increasingly expensive, congested, and polluted. And they’re becoming unsustainable for businesses and workers as a result. In addition to this, brain hubs excluded huge swathes of the population from the workforce – for example those with caring responsibilities or mobility issues that made travel challenging.

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic took a pin to that bubble. As white-collar workers were ushered out of office buildings and into their own homes, the reliance on the physical brain hub weakened. Remote work took off, and even after the relaxation of restrictions, it hasn’t showed signs of stopping. As employees realize that they can perform their roles just as well at home, businesses are discovering that to retain top talent, they need to offer more flexibility. And so the exodus from these former brain hubs began and continues to gather pace.


Global Teams Have Even More Potential

OmnipresentNow we find ourselves on the cusp of a new frontier of work - and consequently the way we build teams. The internet has been networking brains since the 1990s, but only now, with the acknowledgment that central offices aren’t the be-all-and-end-all of high quality work, are global teams (and a “global brain”) primed to thrive.

After all, if you can hire someone remotely in a different city, you can hire remotely in a different country altogether, vastly broadening and diversifying your talent pool and the minds you can network together. As a result, this new generation of teams will be able to innovate faster, think in new, creative ways to avoid groupthink, and carry out highly specialized tasks more efficiently. This, in turn, will help businesses pull ahead of the competition, boost profitability, and solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.

Take the research community as an example. ‘Over the past decade, remote virtual research teams have begun outperforming in-person teams in making breakthrough discoveries,’ says Knight. ‘Technologies like videoconferencing have enabled inter-university research teams to publish measurably more groundbreaking research papers since 2010 than teams co-located on the same campus.’

Global teams are already proving themselves to be better, smarter, and more accomplished. So, business leaders need to take note. Because if they don’t, they risk being left behind.

Discover more about the future of work and the globalization of teams in Omnipresent’s report.

You can also catch more with Wilson during this month’s APA/GPMI  “PayTalk” podcast, Episode 31: Borderless Hiring and Building the Best Team on Earth.

The GPMI free, one-hour webinar, "How Borderless Hiring Can Help Build the Best Teams on Earth" will take place on December 6, 2022. It is sponsored by Omnipresent.

Matthew Wilson is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Omnipresent.
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